By George Psyllides
The number of heroin users has dropped in recent years but there was has been a simultaneous rise in cannabis users, a report said on Tuesday.
The report, compiled by the Cyprus Anti-drugs Council, concerns users who seek treatment.
A recent survey among the general and student population showed that the highest rate of people seeking treatment was 57 per cent for cannabis users and 22 per cent for heroin.
The council said there has been a rise in people seeking treatment to kick their addiction to other opioids such as oxycodone.
According to the report, in 2012, 33 people, or 3 per cent, were mainly treated for opioids beyond heroin compared with 48 users the following year.
Last year, 60 people (4.6 per cent) sought treatment mainly for oxycodone addiction and 15 (1.2 per cent) people for other opioids.
In 2013, 1,308 drugs users sought treatment as opposed to 1,092 the previous year.
The report said 10 drugs-related deaths were recorded in 2014 – six directly related to drug use.
In two cases – one directly and one indirectly related – authorities found that the victims had used oxycodone. Since 160, authorities recorded 160 deaths directly or indirectly related to drugs.
Cannabis remains the most common illegal substance used by the general population, while the tendency to try the drug is stronger between the ages of 18 and 22 when most males are in the army and females in universities.
Substance use, apart from sedatives, is more widespread among men, the report said. Compared with the findings of a 2009 survey, there is a reduction in the prevalence of illegal substances.
Cyprus has seen a rise in the use of stimulants however, with methamphetamine users seeking treatment showing an increase in recent years. Fifty users, or 4 per cent of the total, sought help in 2014 compared with 27 the previous year, 40 in 2012, 14 in 2011, and seven in 2010.
Ten per cent of addicts seeking treatment in 2014 were cocaine users.
As regards intravenous drugs users, the report warned of the risk of transmitting diseases such as Hepatitis C and HIV due to the lack of screening.
Despite one in four users having shot drugs at least once, only a few are referred for testing and it is believed that diagnosis of infectious diseases is at a low level.
Out of 109 intravenous users tested in 2014, 49 were found positive to Hepatitis C, the report said.